I should…. Not a Book Review Again

I should be doing a book review now.  It’s time.  I finished reading the book over a month ago… I could be already two months and I have not taken the time to review it yet.  I’m not sure why and I’m not going to try to come up with excuses.  I could tell you that it’s because of NaNoWriMo which has been taken quite a bit of time and I could tell you, also, that it’s how busy my life has been … or better yet, I could tell you that I have decided to vlog my NaNo experience and the learning curve has been steep with YouTube so I’ve not had the time to dedicate to reviewing the book.

Although all those things are true.  I have entered NaNoWriMo and have been busy trying, and failing, to meet my word count every day, I could have written the book review for you.  I have been really busy at work but no more busy than I have been at any other point in my life.  I have also decided to vlog my NaNo participation…. Now this one is new and the learning curve is super steep.  I’ve never had so much trouble with my computer as when I’ve tried to get my videos from my library to iMovie.  I think I finally got it to work but don’t ask me how.

So, why am I not reviewing the book you might be asking.  Well, I don’t know.  I liked it.  I actually liked so much that I am thinking I want to write a historical novel.  I don’t feel prepared to do that yet but I have a setting and I have a thought but I’m just not good at romance and the kind of historical novels I like always have a little bit of romance in them.  Just a little, I hate all the gushy type of stuff.  Just a hint makes it so much more interesting.  Anyway, I’m going to learn and practice and perhaps I will write a historical romance novel one day.

So here is what I think the reason I have not reviewed the book is.  I’ve been lazy and focused on other projects.  Things that I need to do in order to survive.  Nope, I’m not being dramatic.  I’m being laid off from my job.  Yep….. the place I’ve been for the past 8 years and the place where I thought I was going to stay forever… well until retirement.  It was a shock, but not really.  I have known for a while, a year, but now it’s real.  I’m being shown the door and I’ve been having trouble figuring out how that makes me feel.  I’m ok.  I’m not suicidal or anything like that.  I’m a little angry and a little upset and going through all the stages of grief so if you just give me a little time and indulge me in what I choose to write I promise the review will come.

I will say that the book is great.  I really liked it so if you waiting for the review to know if you should buy it… there you go.  I think you should and I think you should read it.  Ohhh wait… I haven’t told you what book! Right.

The Carnegies’ Maid

The review will come in the next few days.  I promise!  I just need to get through some more stuff.  In the mean time I hope you are enjoying some of my posts about NaNoWriMo.  Please go visit my YouTube channel where I will giving you a glimpse of my life trying to get through NaNoWriMo and keeping a sense of humor.

thank you so much for understanding.  I’m going to go put in a few more words for my NaNo novel and then write a review….

Thanks again.  Glad you are still here with me.

Ana

Dressing Up for Halloween/Life

So, this will have absolutely nothing to do with writing.  Except that IT IS writing and therefore I guess it will count.  It’s probably just going to sound like a stream of consciousness to anyone who reads it because ….. well, that is exactly what it is.  

I woke up a half hour ago, made a cup of coffee and sent the obligatory email to work advising that I would be working from home because I woke up with a migraine and just took some medicine.  I’m not lying, this is actually the truth.  I did wake up a half hour ago and I had, actually still have a headache.  But I’m on of those annoying people who just wakes up naturally at a certain hour and resolves to be productive even if it’s super annoying.  Believe me, it’s annoying to me also.  I’d much rather be in bed, under the covers, sleeping.  But…. Here I am.

Anyway, having woken up and sent out the emails to the office and the team and not being able to sleep I sat, at the kitchen table with coffee in hand and thinking about the day ahead.  It’s halloween and every child, or at least most children, will be dressing up as whatever their little imaginations allowed them to imagine.  They will for one day become the fruits of their imaginations.  Why can’t we, as adults do this?

I’m looking forward to seeing them come to the door asking for candy.  I will admit that, as an immigrant, this tradition of trick or treating is still a bit odd to me but as a chocolate lover I completely understand it.  If this had been a thing where I come from, I would be such a happy kid on that day.  Chocolate is life.  You better believe that I would have it all mapped out where the best chocolate giver lived and I would make sure to hit those houses before anyone else.  Like I said…. Chocolate is life.

But I am here to talk about the kids and their imaginations.  Have you ever paid attention to how kids behave when they dress up for Halloween? They become the thing they imagine the thing or person to be.  Most little girls, not all, want to dress up as princesses…. I’m not really sure why but that’s not the point.  If you really look at a little girl who is dressed up as a princess her attitude completely changes. She walks a little taller and speaks a little different and there is a tone of importance in her voice.  She says please and thank you and her smile is a little different.  She becomes the person she imagines a princess to be.  Now think back to the little boy dressed as a monster or something like that.  You got it?  He comes to your door and sometimes doesn’t even ring the bill but knocks and as you open the door he looks up at you and he looks a little taller and growls at you.  You just saw this little boy yesterday running to get into mom’s car to be driven to school and he was just a little boy.  Today, as a monster, he is that monster.  When grabbing the candy from the skull or pumpkin bucket I have in my hands he will just reach in and take it.  He will say thank you but in a growly voice and he’s on to the his next “victim.” 

I say all this to say that clothes do in fact make the person.  These little people become what they imagine they are.  They take on the actions of a princess, a monster, a police person or whatever they decide to “become” for this one day of every year.  I think that in a way we do as well.  We become who we think we are.  As adults we become what we imagine we are.  The trouble with this is that others will then see us in that way and because this becomes a vicious cycle.  Sometimes it’s great and sometimes …. Well, not so much.  

Every morning we put on whatever clothes that reflect what we are feeling.  Have you ever said to yourself.  “I am so tired, I don’t feel like putting on heels…. I’m just going to wear my jeans and sneakers.”  Gosh, I say this almost every morning.  I AM so tired at 4:00 a.m.!!!!!!!!!! But that little girl dressed as a princess is a lot smarter than I am.  She is probably also tired from playing all day and not being able to sleep thinking about her dress and her beautiful tiara just a few feet away from her bed and how for one entire day she’s going to be a beautiful princess.   That little girl knows that in order to be believable as a princes she must look like a princess and as such she CANNOT go outside in public wearing anything but her long dress and her tiara.  How else will she be distinguishable from the other little girls?  

When did we, as adults forget how to be this little girl?  As I sit here at my kitchen table, with my now cold cup of coffee, I’m thinking that perhaps our clothes are more important than we give them credit for.  They are our coat of armor and our special power.  They are like Superman’s cape or tights (whatever you prefer).  They don’t make us who we are but they enhance who we are and they present to the world the best form of ourselves.  

Perhaps it’s time I bring this little girl back and go find my princess dress.  Perhaps I will regain my superpower!

Anyway, not writing related but I just needed to write.  Hope you enjoyed it and if you did please like and share with your friends.  I am trying to grow the blog and thinking about a podcast.

Thanks for listening

Ana   

#NaNoWriMo – What if You Don’t Like me…… What?

Some of you may have read my post last week where I, for a moment, was having a freak out moment.  My #NaNoWriMo month was apparently going to be taken over by the scrip writing fairies and I was about to go along with it.  Perhaps it was fear of not being able to accomplish the goal of 1,667 words per day, perhaps was the fear of not being good enough, perhaps it was a whole lot of both.

It’s true.  I, very often struggle with not feeling like I’m good enough.  I’ve heard that most people do.  However, some of us, like me, sometimes take that fear a bit farther and sabotage ourselves.

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I was never one of those kids that was exceptional at anything.  I’m not sure I ever tried really hard.  I have always been afraid of trying hard and failing.   If I fail others won’t like me and worst yet, I won’t like myself.   Words and stories are easy for me and I rarely struggle to create something that people want read or listen to.  I CAN TELL A STORY and that makes me happy and proud.  IT MAKES ME LIKED.  It’s something I don’t want to lose.

#NaNoWriMo

#NaNoWriMo is a contest where you have to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  There will be winners and losers (I hate to say that word).  What if I am a loser?  What if I don’t achieve the goal of writing the 50,000 words? Not winning, to me,  will mean that I’m not good at writing and if I’m not good at this thing that I rely on for sanity what exactly am I good at?  I rather not know! So, when I realized that there was a chance (a very big chance) that I would not win this thing, I freaked out and began creating reasons as to why I couldn’t enter the contest.  It’s not me, really! Rules are rules.  I was hiding behind the rules.

I sabotage myself

I create reasons why I can’t.  I’m either too busy to do it or I’m not prepared or, in the case of #NaNoWriMo2019 my story changed from a novel to a screenplay and because a screenplay is never going to be 50,000 I cannot enter the contest.  That would not be fair to others.  If that sounds stupid or someone calls me out on my lie, I go a little further and say.  Ok I will write the screenplay but that takes me out of the contest and therefore I can’t lose.  Our brains are so good at making up their own stories.

This time something shifted.  I fooled my brain.  Within a few days of writing last week’s blog post I began to dream up a different story.  A story that means a lot to me and winning isn’t about the 50,000 words.  Winning is writing the story and getting it off of my chest.

So, here I am.  Ready (well, as ready as I can ever be) to enter #NaNoWriMo2019.  My first ever and I’m really excited….. Now if I can only figure out how to tell the story without really telling the story.

See you next week

Ana

How I feel about the Westside by W. M. Akers

Nope.  I don’t think so.  I want to read and I am reading but I am reading sooooooo slow.  The book started out as a great read and I could not get enough of it.  I actually read 139 pages in one sitting and then I put it down.  I thought it was because I was burned out from sitting and reading for so long but now…. I’m not really sure.

I don’t want to let another week by without updating you on my reading or lack thereof so I thought I’d just come on here and try to put some perspective into what it is that is going on with this book.

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The story takes place in New York in 1921 and a fence has been built the full length of the island of Manhattan, separating the East and the West Sides.  People have been disappearing, the Westside has been taken “hostage” by Barbarossa, a woman who for what I understand so far is a bootlegger and in a strange way related to our protagonist, Gilda Carr.

At the start of the story, Gilda Carr, the daughter of a police officer who appears to have been a legend on the Westside, takes a detective job to find Mrs. Copeland’s missing leather glove.  The gloves had been a gift from Mr. Copeland to Mrs. Copeland and she did not want him to find out that she had lost one.  She made Gilda promise that she would not tell Mr. Copeland.  The job seems easy and the perfect type of job for her….. she doesn’t want to take on complicated cases.  In fact, she refers to her detective agency as one that only accepts “Tiny Mysteries” because those are are the ones that have the ability to “Destroy us.”   Gilda, takes the job and while she’s following Mr. Copeland in hopes to find out where he may have purchased the gloves she witnesses his murder.

For the next 100 or so pages the story revolves around what the Westside and the Eastside have become and what has been going on on both sides of the fence.  We meet and find out more about Gilda and her “nanny” who is still living with her Hellida and still seems to be taking care of Gilda all the time.  Or maybe she’s just really over protective.  I have taken a liking to Hellida and find her to be very caring and very normal, as opposed to other of the characters in the book.

For now I’m not ready to say that I’m not enjoying the book but I am going to say that although in the beginning of the story there were some very funny moments with dialogue and even with some of the narrative, as I get to the middle those moments are not as apparent.  it just seems to be a lot of strange characters appearing.  There are so many people popping in and out of the story that I am losing track of who each of them is and I’m starting to feel a little bit lost.  At one point there was a child introduced and then nothing much was done with the child so I’m still wondering if that child is going to appear at some point later on because that has happened with other characters and …. Well, I’m a little confused with the story right now and almost ready to give up.

Reasons to not DNF this book:

I started out really liking the book and because it takes place in New York, specifically Manhattan I wanted to read it.  I really enjoy reading books about areas with which I am familiar.  However, I’ve not found anything mentioned that I may be familiar with.  Even when the author was referring to the docks I was hoping I could feel a connection but …. yeah…. did not happen.  The author lives in Brooklyn so I was hoping to have things seem more familiar but…. I guess I can toss that up to the book being a fantasy so perhaps it’s just his made up world.

The world building is good.  I am able to immerse myself in the world and feel like I can see the streets and feel the darkness of the night with every description.  I just sometimes wish it wasn’t so wordy.  I think the author did a really good job with the world and I’m pretty sure that’s the biggest reason why I have not given up the book yet.

I’m going to try to read 200 pages tonight and hopefully this weekend I will be able to have a review ….. a good review….. up and published.  I hope I don’t disappoint you all.  I’m really going to try.

Thanks for stopping by and please do come back.  I have a few other books in progress right now so I am really hoping to finish this one so I can get on with the others.

Thanks again

Ana

 

It’s Not Book Related but ….

It’s true.  I have been missing in action and slacking on the reading front but as we all know, life sometimes takes over and … well….. I roll with the punches.  So, because it’s been so busy and I’ve been rolling with the punches most of my reading has been articles, newspapers….. I have not picked up a book in …. well….. months!!! Sad to say!

I am fully aware that in order to stay relevant I really have to make a larger effort and get on here a little more.  I’m sure most of you guys have already moved on and found a replacement for “Ana Talks Books.”  So here I am.  This time I’m going to, instead of telling you about books, I’m going to share some of the best articles I came across in the past few weeks.  I hope you don’t mind and you can hang tight until I get myself untangled from this crazy busy life and get back to serious book business.  So here we go!

Most of us have day gigs, you know that place we go to every morning and if it weren’t for the paycheck some of us would not return the next day.  I will admit that I do enjoy what I do, so I’m not in that category, but I am normal, after all, and as any normal human being sometimes the thought of making the trip to the office makes me cringe.  I am absolutely not into office childish games and sometimes that how it feels.  Well, I found this article to which I’m sure most of you can relate.  Popularity at Work Still Matters.  Let me know what you think.  Doesn’t it hit on all the points?

Beloved Nutella changes its recipe!  WHAT???? We are all going to miss the comforting feel of sitting on the couch, after a very complicated adulating day and enjoying a jar of Nutella, savoring that familiar homey feeling…… ok, maybe that’s just me.  So, yes, I’m a bit charged up about this.

“What’s your current salary?” Has been banned from interviews in New York.  How do you feel about that?  Well, as an employee and a woman I feel really good about this.  No more trying to figure out if I’m selling myself short.  Now I can, instead of saying how much I make, I can actually tell them how much I’m worth.  Isn’t that much better?

There were others but true to form I forgot to save them.  I really need to get with it!!!! Let’s start small and grow from here.

I do hope you are all having a great day and have an awesome weekend.  I’ll try to not go silent for this long again.

See ya!

July Wrap Up and August TBR

Sort Of…..

Hello.  Me again! today with an update on what I read and a change in plans for August.  If you recall, last month I put up a list of what I may be reading in August.  Here is the post.  Yeah, well, that’s not happening.  Hang on, it’s not all bad news.  I plan on reading stuff, just not that stuff.

So, in July I managed to read 4 books.  Here are some of the reviews:

It was a good reading month.  I hope to be able to repeat it this month.  As of right now I’m on track but … knowing me…. it’s all dependent on my day to day job and how busy my weekends are.

Last week I gave myself a goal of completing at least 5 of the Man Booker Prize long listed books (here is the post)  Interesting thing… I went to Barnes and Noble (my town doesn’t have any independent book sellers and could not find any of the books I chose.  I was extremely disappointed but decided to start reading this past weekend and started with Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  I’m absolutely loving it and basically read it the entire weekend.  I have about 100 pages left to read and can’t wait for the work day to be over so I can finish it.

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Before my brilliant idea of getting hooked on the Man Booker Prize Long List, I had started reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  This is a part of my “I must read more classics.” It’s on a bit of a hold right now since Exit West is demanding quite a lot of my attention but I am really enjoying the humor and sassiness of Catherine Moreland and Henry Tilney.

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Before all the craziness of Northanger Abbey and Exit West I had started reading my Book of the Month pick:  The Windfall, by Diksha Basu.  I am feeling really bad for this one.  It’s not a bad book.  It’s funny and very much a Summer type of book.  It deals with wealth and friendships.  I think very timely and important topics…… I’m just not feeling it right now, so it’s on hold.  I do want to get back to it…. maybe in August I’ll finish it.

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Yesterday I commuted to the office so I downloaded an audio book.  I’m sure you’ve read all about how difficult it is for me to listen to books as I always find that I get distracted and can get myself to focus on the story.  I read an article recently about how to listen to audio books and the author recommended listening to non-fiction since you don’t have to fully be present and if you get distracted when you come back it’s not like you have missed the plot or something like that so it’s easier to pull yourself back up.

Anyway, all this to say that I am currently listening to Rediscovering Americanism by Mark R. Levin and narrated by Jeremy Lowell.  I have about 3 hours left on this one and I will probably finish it tomorrow.

So, my August Update?  Well, expect that I will finish at least Exit West, Northanger Abbey and the audio book Rediscovering Americanism.  Expect to see reviews for those, at least.  Then I’m thinking I will need to pick up another one of the Man Booker Prize Long listed but I’m not sure which one.  I really want to read Paul Auster but that one is so long, I’m not sure Summer is the best time to get to that one.  Perhaps Ali Smith or George Saunders.

What I will do next is a mystery, even to me.

XoXo

Ana

 

Book Reviews – A Rant

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What constitutes literary fiction? Most consider a work of literary fiction to be something which will stand the test of time. However, by definition high quality is quite subjective. What I may consider to be high quality may not be what you, my reader, will consider high quality. For instance, this blog.

There are a few characteristics of literary fiction that are worth mentioning:

There is a concern with social commentary, political criticism or human conditions;
It’s the type of reading that you do slowly. It’s meant to be savored as if tasting a new appetizer for the first time or an old bottle of wine (which even that is pretty subjective too right?)
It’s written to impress, it’s elegant and lyrical.
There is an introspection about the narrative. Something that lingers with the reader which can not be distilled.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “literary” as having its origins in the 17th century and it relating to the letters of the alphabet. It’s rooted in the Latin for letterarius or litters which literally (no pun intended) means letter. So ….. if we are referring to a book, doesn’t it mean that all books are literary? Is this distinction between literary fiction and genre fiction just a way for some people to feel more pompous? It is, in my opinion.

As I am sure you are aware by now, I enjoy listening to book reviews and book recommendations on YouTube as well as enjoying reading recommendations and reviews on various blogs….. I have quite the list. Recently, I noticed that some of the people whose reviews I have been reading or listening for some time have become quite the “professional critics.” To be sure, I mean this in the most unkind of ways. My life is serious enough without making a hobby feel like a chore.

A blog book review or a YouTube book review is being done for the benefit of the lay person reading a book. If my desire were to get a professional opinion (which you may very well be one) I would go find you on the New York Times Book Review or any other literary periodical available. We are not scholars, at least I am not and although I am interested in reading good books I am also interested in the everyday experience of reading those books. Not necessarily an escape but a diversion from my every day life. I do not want to know and I’m almost certain that most people listening to your YouTube Chanel or reading your blog are not interested to know that because there were too many commas or the grammar was not perfect (according to you) they should not pick up blah blah book (real book names have been disguised to protect the innocent and the guilty).

So, perhaps the book I’m reading is never going to be a classic. I will, however, remind you that it is a book and it is all made up of various words (litters) and because it’s fiction, I’m going to say that it is literary fiction.

Perhaps we should consider trying to stop putting so many things into their neat little boxes and we will be better off that way. We try so hard to divide and then complain when things (and by things I may also be talking about people) are divided. Let’s just say a book is either fiction or non-fiction and there are a variety of genres (another problem I have but we will leave this one for a different rant) where they may “fit.”

So, as for me. I will continue to listen to the non-sense about whether or not an author goes comma crazy or if the grammatical errors really were annoying (which they are and shame on the publisher) but only because I just want as many book options as I can get. I’ll overlook the craziness and decide for myself despite the grammatical criticism of the book, if it’s something I want to read. To that end, you can help me with that by just giving me synopsis of the book and I’ll skip your review. It doesn’t really matter to me anyway.

I’m done with my rant. This will happen from time to time.

Ana